Crème brûlée doughnuts

A decadent treat that’s baked, not fried!            

When I made my crème brûlée bars for the first time I thought I’d hit it out of the park with that recipe. Well, it’s now playing second fiddle to this astonishing sweet treat – light and fluffy doughnuts that are baked rather than fried AND they’re filled with the most delicious pastry cream and topped with a fantastic crunchy caramel glaze. Don’t be surprised if the people you share these with assume you bought them at a fancy bakery – they’re that good.


Custard filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups (375 ml) milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp (24 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar, divided
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract


  • 2/3 cup (155 ml) milk
  • 2 tsp (10 g) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp (15 g) butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg plus one egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 g) salt
  • 2 – 2 1/4 cups (250 – 285 g) all-purpose flour

Brûlée-style topping:

  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) water


  • Make the custard filling (pastry cream) first so it has time to chill thoroughly. In a large bowl, beat egg yolks until smooth. Combine 1/4 cup of the sugar, cornstarch and salt; whisk this mixture vigorously into the beaten egg yolks.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat milk and remaining 1/4 cup sugar over medium-high heat until almost boiling. Scoop out 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture and pour it slowly into the egg yolks, whisking continuously. Add a second 1/2 cup of hot milk to eggs in the same fashion.
  • Return milk and egg mixture to saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it bubbles and thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla. Immediately pour into a clean bowl; cover tightly with plastic wrap (pressing it down onto the surface of the custard). Refrigerate until well chilled (at least 2 hours).
  • Next, make the dough.  Warm milk briefly in a pot or the microwave until warm but not hot.
  • Put milk and yeast in a large bowl (use a stand mixer with a dough hook if you have one). Let sit for 5 minutes until yeast is frothy.
  • Add butter, sugar, salt, beaten egg and 1 cup of flour; blend. Add 1/2 cup flour; continue to blend until the dough comes together in a ball. Add flour, one small spoonful at a time, as needed to make a sticky dough that comes away from sides of bowl as you stir or mix it with the dough hook.
  • Turn dough out onto a floured counter and knead for a minute or two if you mixed the dough in a stand mixer (5 minutes if you mixed it by hand) until dough feels smooth and elastic and just slightly sticky. Sprinkle additional flour as needed during the kneading process.
  • Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  • On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness. Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough. Place on a large parchment-lined baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. You can fold up the scraps once and press out again for a second cutting if you wish. I like to use a 2 1/2 inch (6.25 cm) cutter to make a greater quantity of slightly smaller doughnuts, but you can also use a 3 or 4 inch (7.5 or 10 cm) cutter if you prefer.
  • Cover cut doughnuts with a clean towel; let rise again until doubled in size (45 mins – 1 hr).
  • When doughnuts have almost finished their second rise, preheat oven to 350F. Bake the doughnuts for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed. Let cool completely.
  • When doughnuts have cooled, transfer the chilled pastry cream to a piping bag fitted with a long filling tip. Use a skewer or chopstick to make a hole in the side of each doughnut then insert the tip of the pastry bag into the hole and squeeze the bag gently to fill each doughnut. Repeat for the remaining doughnuts.
  • To make the glaze, put the sugar and water for the caramel (brûlée) in a small saucepan placed medium-high heat. Once the mixture starts bubbling, reduce the heat to medium. Watch the pan closely, giving it a gentle swirl every few minutes, until it turns a deep golden brown and reaches a temperature of 390F, measured with a candy or instant-read thermometer. Take the pan off the heat.
  • Working very carefully, dip the top of each doughnut into the caramel, letting the excess drip off before placing the doughnut on a parchment-lined tray or rack to cool. If the caramel in the pot has stiffened up, reheat it briefly, then continue dipping the doughnuts.
  • These are best enjoyed the day they are made but can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before serving.

Makes 16-20 small or 8-10 large doughnuts; recipe can be doubled.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

4 thoughts

  1. These are the best doghnuts we ever had they are so great my husband and children and evenmy grand children are already begging me to make more of them thanks Paula they are terrific and so simple to follow your recipe too thanks for makingmy day and making your recipes so simple to follow on line this way I am your totally blind subscriber and still find each and every recipe you hsare so easy to follow evenon line this way. Thanks again

    1. I am so glad my recipes are bringing joy and nourishment to your family! I do strive to make them easy to follow so am glad to hear they are working for you.

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